16th July 2022


On day two of the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA, Eilish McColgan (coach: Liz Nuttall, club: Dundee Hawkhill Harriers) and Jess Judd (Mick Judd, Blackburn Harriers) finished 10th and 11th respectively in the women’s 10,000m final, while Nick Miller (Tore Gustafsson, Border Harriers) finished 11th in the men’s hammer competition, and there was a British record for Aimee Pratt (Vicente Modahl, Sale Harriers Manchester) in the women’s 3000m steeplechase heats.

McColgan has been in exceptional form this year setting British records over 5km, 10km and half marathon on the road, in addition to a Scottish 10,000m record. Unfortunately, she has also experienced disruption, first due to Covid, and more recently missing the UK Championships due to illness.

In favourable conditions at Hayward Field, the 31-year-old went off with intent, sitting behind Japanese leader Ririka Hironaka who adopted a steady and consistent pace in the early stages. The field was well strung out at that point, but as the leaders approached halfway, they began to bunch together. Judd, who had briefly become detached from the group, patiently worked her way back into the mix as the pace slowed.

McColgan dropped towards the back of the lead group with around seven laps to go. Judd, who had continued to fight to keep the leaders in sight, was tracking her closely. A surge at the front courtesy of Ethiopian duo Letesenbet Gidey – the eventual winner – and Ejgayehu Taye took away any podium opportunity, but McColgan, who finished 10th (30:34.60), was pleased to finish the race after a disruptive couple of months, while Judd was rewarded for her hard work with a lifetime best of 30:35.93 in 11th.

“I’m obviously disappointed to come 10th again, I think this is my fourth 10th place at a world champs and I’m getting better every year, I’m getting faster every year and I’m running PBs every year, but it’s still not where I want to be,” said McColgan.

“To be honest I wasn’t sure I would make the start line, I’ve had a bit of illness and about five days ago I did something to my hamstring. I suppose mentally it’s tough, to have such a cracking year then the last three weeks turn to s**t, so I was scrambling to make the start line…to be honest, it was way better than I thought it would be, but I’ve probably just spent the last five days panicking leading into it and I felt just a little bit switched off.

“It was only really when Jess came on my shoulder it gave me a kick up the ar*e to get back into the race again and be more confident. I hope this has switched everything back on and given me confidence that my hamstring is not bad, and that I didn’t pull it.

“I know the fitness is somewhere in me. It’s just been a rollercoaster – a great start to the season, got covid, came back, ran a big PB, then had another illness and injury but I suppose every athlete has that and I suppose that’s what makes athletics exciting. It’s about who gets to the start line in the right shape.”

Judd was delighted to lower her PB while running a tactically astute race: “I’m really happy with how I performed out there,” she said. “11th in the world sounds so amazing! It all came together – so much work went into that. To run that time, I am just amazed. I said I wanted to go sub-31 before this, so to do that is something I can hardly explain. It was beyond what I expected.

“I couldn’t do any more, and I saw her (Eilish McColgan) come passed me in the last 100m, and I was like, ‘bye, I’ll see you at the end’.

“I think that’s the smartest I’ve raced in a long time. In Oslo (Diamond League) I ran dreadfully tactically, so my dad said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t do that’. I tried to be strong, and I’m glad my tactics worked.”

In the first final of the Championships to feature a Great Britain & Northern Ireland athlete, Commonwealth champion and Olympic finalist Nick Miller finished 11th in the men’s hammer with a best effort of 73.74m.

“I knew we were a couple of weeks away from being ‘ready, ready’,” said the UK champion who had delivered a season’s best performance of 77.13m in qualifying. “I would have needed another season’s best to have reached the top eight…but I’m glad I reached the final.

“Me and my coach haven’t had the best year, so we are trying to catch up and hopefully in a couple of weeks, it’ll be there. A home Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will be fun, so I’m already looking forward to getting back out there.”

In the morning’s qualifying, Aimee Pratt ran the race of her life to finish sixth in her heat of the women’s 3000m steeplechase in a new national record of 9:18.91. Although outside of the automatic qualifying positions, her impressive performance – reducing her previous best by almost seven seconds – was good enough to make it through to Wednesday’s final (20 July).

“I’m a bit frustrated but I think that is the typical athlete attitude,” said the Tokyo Olympian. “I don’t know what I was doing on that last lap but I’m really happy to have made it into the final. I just fell asleep a bit on the last 300m…I wasn’t expecting to be in the lead and then everyone came past and I couldn’t react.

“I think that is one of the fastest times needed to reach a final, so I’m really pleased to have run a British record and I’m really excited to race in the final.”

UK champion Lizzie Bird (Pat McCurry, Shaftesbury Barnet) ran a strong race to finish fifth in heat one (9:23.17), but narrowly missed out on non-automatic qualification.

Elsewhere in qualifying, it was a clean sweep for British athletes in the men’s 110m Hurdles. Andrew Pozzi (Stratford-upon-Avon) clocked 13.45 (-0.5) to finish third in heat one; Josh Zeller (Adrian Brown, Bracknell) finished third in heat two (13.41, +0.4); and David King (Tim O’Neil, City of Plymouth) finished fourth in heat five (13.57, +0.4).

2019 European under-20 champion Zeller – the quickest of the Brits in round one – said: “It was nerve-wracking for sure as it is my first time on a senior team, so there is a lot of excitement obviously, so I’m really happy to have qualified safely and get into those semi-finals.

“I promise I am going to step up. I don’t want to see any more 13.4s, I want to be ready to earn my spot in the final, that’s all I’m looking at right now.

“The senior level is definitely more intense [in comparison to the age group champs]. These people are professionals, and the athletes mean business – it’s a lot more intense, but I like it.”

Although finishing outside of the automatic qualifying positions, Alastair Chalmers (Matt Elias, Guernsey) successfully progressed to the men’s 400m Hurdles semi-finals with 49.37 for fifth in his heat.

“My aim was to come here and make the semi-final and I have done that, and so I’ll just go out there tomorrow whatever lane I have got and hit it,” said the British champion and UK number one.

“Some of these guys aren’t on their A game, and I’m running well, so I just have to give my all and we’ll just see what happens. I’ve got the Commonwealth Games and the Europeans to come but it’s beautiful to be here in competition with these kinds of legends, and I’m running faster than some of them, so I am grateful for that. And we just go on to the next one!”

Chris McAlister (Marina Armstrong, Thames Valley) missed out after finishing sixth in his heat in 51.55.

In her first world championships, British champion Naomi Metzger (Aston Moore, Trafford) was upbeat in spite of missing out on qualification for the women’s triple jump final.

“I obviously tried as hard as I could, but it just didn’t work out today,” said the 24-year-old who recorded a best effort of 13.97m (+0.9). “It’s just that experience of doing a qualification round then a final which I’m really not used to.

“I don’t feel like I underperformed but I still think I’ve got more to go. I’ll just keep training hard and as I said, when I’m at home, I’m going to do much better. I’m honestly not too down – I’m looking forward to the next competition.”

In the women’s high jump, Emily Borthwick (Robbie Grabarz, Wigan and District) in 25th and Laura Zialor (Jade Surman, Marshall Milton Keynes) in 27th both cleared 1.81m but it wasn’t enough to progress to the final.

There were mixed emotions for the pair.

Borthwick said: “I’ve had a really difficult year. The last few months especially have been horrendous, so I’m just dealing with everything. I’m hoping I can turn it round for the Commies and be in a better place mentally.

“I fully believe, and I know that I have the potential to jump high. I showed that indoors and I know I will get myself back up there, it’s just been a challenging few months, going through some changes, and I’m hoping that I’ll turn it around and perform in Birmingham and get those heights back for Munich.”

Zialor said: “It was an amazing experience for my first ever GB international. I’m happy with how I handled myself, but I definitely want more. I felt like I belonged there.

“I learned so much from competing amongst those athletes, and I know what I need to take away and apply at the Commonwealth Games in a couple of weeks.”

Unfortunately, Morgan Lake was withdrawn from high jump qualification following a positive Covid test result. The decision was made in accordance with World Athletics’ Covid-19 procedures and in line with GB & NI medical team advice.